Thursday, 20 April 2017

These WW2 helmets lay forgotten for decades in Hämeenlinna

There they lay, tens and tens of discarded WW2 helmets including a Swedish M21/M26, an Italian M33, a Czech M34, a Sovjet M40 and a Sovjet M36... All dumped on the site by the Finnish Defence Forces after WW2 (possibly in the 1960´s?).

WW2 helmet dump in Hämeenlinna prior to the Easter holidays. Photo Iisakki Kiemunki.

As news about the helmets leaked out in the social media people rushed to the site each to collect their own part of WW2 history.

Helmets and more helmets. Photo Iisakki Kiemunki.

While some visitors settled for one helmet others carried away as many as they possibly could. According to an eyewitness there was something of a queue to the area on Saturday. Some of the looters "proudly" showed off their salvaged finds on the metal detecting forum "Aarremaanalla" (Treasure below ground).

"Salvaged" helmets and the finder hiding behind a local newspaper.

On Sunday when I finally got to the site it was a complete mess. Someone even had tried (and managed) to dig a hole in the frozen ground, revealing (and breaking) even more helmets. Car tyre tracks on the site completed the sad sight.

Dug (?) helmets, before beeing loaded into an awaiting car. Photo by unknown.

According to interviews made by the Finnish National Broadcasting network (YLE) the area might be the same that was used for storing captured and discarded materiel during the period 1941-1944.
After 1945 most of the helmets were sold for scrap metal value or remade into kettles etc...

The same area in 1942. Photo SA-kuva.

After my visit to the site on Sunday April 16th I felt that the site might well be worth an archaeological excavation too see what the area is all about. Let´s see if somethingcould be arranged here with the help of some local institutions. Still a valid question remains, what to do with the finds? Before that question is settled the unhindered looting goes on and that makes me really really sad...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

"Durchgangslager Hangö" Helsinki-Raseborg (Ekenäs)-Hanko-Turku-Raseborg (Karis)-Helsinki.

Yesterday I ventured on a 12 hour long (car) journey to promote the scientific conflict archaeological research of "Durchgangslager Hangö" and "Poetic Archaeology". The day included several stops including a radio interview, a short visit to Hanko to document a building associated with WW2, an interview with a 100-year old lady who had worked in a "Kantine" close to the German transition camp from 1942-1943 and finally a lecture at Karis Hembygdsförening in Raseborg.

Left picture from 1943 (SA-kuva) and on the right the same spot photographed yesterday 28.3.2017.

During the day I met many people who were interested in our project and especially the upcoming exhibitions in 2017 in Helsinki and in 2018 in Hanko. Needless to say I was quite exhausted by the time I got back home to Helsinki in the evening but the day was well worth it.

The high point of the day waswithout doubt the interview with the 100-year old lady in Turku. Despite her old age she had very vivid memories from her time in Hanko and the German soldiers who visited the "Kantine" in Hanko. Before her time in Hanko she worked in another "Kantine", this one close to the WW2 German transition camp called "Little Berlin" in Turku S. Finland.

The German transition camp called Little Berlin ("Pikku Berliini") in Turku (picture from 1950).

Before I went to sleep I checked my email and got more important news that adds to my doctoral dissertation in the shape of an eyewitness account from a Finnish diver who worked in Hanko harbour in the winter of 1942. There he witnessed the very harsh misbehaviour of German soldiers towards imprisoned (fellow) German soldiers (one of them probably didn´t survive the treatment) before beeing transferred to an awaiting German troop carrier. The imprisoned German soldiers had been brought to Hanko harbor by train (from the north?). A very sinister and disturbing story indeed...

German troop carrier in Hanko harbour in the winter of 1942. SA-kuva.

Tomorrow it´s time for a lecture at the research seminar (University of Helsinki dpt of Archaeology). It will be nice to meet fellow doctoral students and discuss many different aspects surrounding the conflict archaeology of the WW2 trasition camp in Hanko S. Finland

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A few more cleaned finds from "Durchgangslager Hangö" 7.3.2017.

Today I spent most of the time at the "Poetic Archaeology" workspace at "Kaapelitehdas" arranging the find boxes with uncleaned finds from the large dump of the camp (excavations 2015-2016 and continued excavations in 2017).

I also managed to do some cleaning of a hundred or so finds, mostly beer bottle caps and unburnt bone today :). Below are a few photos of todays cleaned WW2 finds.

 Mirror fragment with makers mark Ernst Krause & co Wien XX

 The remains of a lamp from an officers barrack.

 Small ornate brass pin.

"Heer" medical tube.

 Norwegian one öre coin and Oslo tram token.

Text on a German toothpaste tube.

Monday, 6 March 2017

The "Organisation Todt" Volkswagen made stoves from "Durchgangslager Hangö"

There has been some discussions about the authenticiy of the VW markings on the "Organisation Todt" stoves found in "Durchgangslager Hangö". Below are a few pictures to settle the question.

A few more cleaned finds from "Durchgangslager Hangö"

Today was a rather busy day, lots of finds and only a limited amount of time. I have decided to take it easy although at times it seems like handling all of the thousands finds is an impossible task. At the moment it seems that I will have all the finds cleaned by the end of this month.

Japo Knuutila from "Poetic Archaeology" kindly borrrowed me one of his cameras so now I can share better pictures of the finds with you here!

 German bakelite soapboxes, an aluminium mug and a container for condensed milk. The green mug is Sovjet pre 1941.

 Text "NORWAY" on the back of an aluminium Sardine can.

 Broken German shoepolish container with the text "Sonderklasse".

 Anther French item with markings BARDIN SAINT-DENIS


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Helsingin Sanomat article about the conflict archaeology, finds and history of "Durchgangslager Hangö"

A german coin found during the excavations of the German transition camp. Photo Jukka Gröndal/HS

A lengthy article about the conflict archaeology of "Durchgangslager Hangö" was published in the leading Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat today. The article focused on only a few of the aspects of the research of the camp (archaeology, finds and the history of the camp). Because lack of space and because he wanted to keep the story focused and manyissues were left out by the decision of the reporter.

One of the things left out from this first article about my work on a doctoral dissertation about the camp was the co-operation with Jan Martti Kaila and Japo Knuutila in the art project "Poetic Archaeology". We will work on a large separate article about this art project later this spring so that this groundbreaking project that combines photographic art and archaeology gets all the attention it deserves.

"Baracke" interior. Photo Jan Martti Kaila and Japo Knuutila for "Poetic Archaeology".

Almost immediately after the article was published I received a text message from an elderly gentleman who informed me that his grandmother (now 100 years old) had worked in the "Lotta Kantine" of the German transition camp. I will interview her next week. This is why articles like the one in HS are so important, they are very important for the research!! I have also received several applications to participate in the excavations next summer. This benefits both "Poetic Archaeology" and my work on the history and archaeology of the camp.

Lotta-Svärd "Kantine".

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The scientific archaeological research of "Durchgangslager Hangö 1942-1944" and Poetic Archaeology.

The scientific conflict archaeology research of "Durchgangslager Hangö" owes a lot to the photographic art project "Poetic Archaeology". The project is funded by Vetenskapsrådet (Sweden) and administered by the Academy of Fine Arts (Finland).

Photographic art meets archaeology. The find layer of "Durchgangslager Hangö". Photo Jan Fast.

Since 2015 I have been periodically employed by the project a situation that has helped me a lot in my research. Since December 2016 I have had the luxury of working with the excavation finds in the projects workspace at "Kaapelitehdas" in Helsinki.

The "Poetic Archaeology" workspace at "Kaapelitehdas". Photo Jan Fast.

"Poetic archaeology" was founded in 2014 by Jan Martti Kaila, Japo Knuutila and Jan Fast on the methodology of both artistic and scientific research. The project looks at some unexpected similarities between contemporary art and contemporary archaeology. Could artistic research serve as a platform for opening up a dialogue and collaboration between the two disciplines that mostly function as separate institutions?

"Baracke"interior from "Durchgangslager Hangö". 
Photo Poetic Archaeology Jan Martti Kaila/Japo Knuutila

In late august 2017 the project enters a new phase with the construction of a photographic art exhibition at the Exhibition Laboratory in Helsinki!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

"Durchgangslager Hangö 1942-1944" midterm report. The archaeology of civilian and military encounters in Hanko 1942-1944.

Since the beginning of the scientific research project in 2014 I have been conducting interviews with locals in Hanko, S. Finland, who remember, or interacted with German soldiers or the WW2German transition  camp on Cape Tulliniemi 1942-1944.

As a result of the tens of interviews I have been able to locate and draw up a map of the encounters (with the according histories) between German soldiers and civilians in Hanko 1942-1944.

The map will hopefully be accompanied by archaeological finds as we venture on archaeological digs in the areas of encounter in 2017.

Still testing the limits of archaeology in rediscovering  local WW2 history in Hanko, S. Finland :)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thursday. A few of todays cleaned WW2 finds from Hanko!

Today I was preoccupied with arranging the uncleaned WW2 finds from Hanko, S. Finland. I managed to do some cleaning too, mostly brittle uniform fragments and lots and lots of broken bottle glass.

DRK Schwester with recovering "Heer "soldiers. 
Similar scenes were played out in "Deutsches Lager Hanko".

Among the finds from the beach area were a few nice WW2 Norvegian and French items, a silent testimony to the German soldiers war trail before Finland. Below are a few picture of a couple of todays cleaned finds :)

German "OSMARIN" tooth brush.

 Aluminium soap box "Seife".

Soviet bottle (1940).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Halfway through the cleaning process!

Time for a celebration? Today I realized that I´m half way through the cleaning and sorting process. Lot´s of WW2 finds still in their plastic bags but many finds already in their cardboard boxes!

Boxed small finds. Still need to fill in the LEICA Zeno coordinates.

Paper tags for the finds from the "Entlausungsdorf" area.

It´s amazing how every day a find or two, that escaped me during the excavations, turns up. I have had lot´s of help in identifying the odd finds from my colleagues and friends over the Internet! Below are a few of todays tidbits.

 "Viking" shoe polish.

 German medical tubes,

Soviet bakelite ashtray with "Mosplastmass" marking..

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

More beautiful finds from "Deutsches Lager Hanko"

As the cleaning of the excavation finds continue, more and more interesting details emerge. Below are a few of todays several hundred cleaned finds.

 Paper items.

 Schnapps glass.

"Sebalds Haartinktur" bottle.

Ornate drinking glass.

Wehrmacht beer bottle.

German food ration can.

Flashlight battery with text Warszawa!

Enamel bottle cap LAB.